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Excel 2020: Trace Precedents to See What Cells Flow into a Formula

July 15, 2020 - by Bill Jelen

Excel Trace Precedents to See What Cells Flow into a Formula. Photo Credit: Johannes Ludwig at

If you need to see which cells flow into a formula, you can use the Trace Precedents command in the Formula Auditing group on the Formulas tab. In the following figure, select D6. Choose Trace Precedents. Blue lines will draw to each cell referenced by the formula in D6.

The dotted line leading to a symbol in B4 means there is at least one precedent on another worksheet. If you double-click the dotted line, Excel shows you a list of the off-sheet precedents.

A formula in D6 is referring to B10, A8, A6, B4, C2, D2, and one cell on another worksheet. Select D6 and Trace Precedents. Blue lines are drawn from D6 to each of the other cells. A dotted line is also drawn to a worksheet icon - this indicates one off-sheet precedent.

If you stay in cell D6 and choose Trace Precedents a few more times, you will see the second-level precedents, then the third-level precedents, and so on. When you are done, click Remove Arrows.

Title Photo: Johannes Ludwig at

This article is an excerpt from MrExcel 2020 - Seeing Excel Clearly.

Bill Jelen is the author / co-author of
MrExcel 2020 - Seeing Excel Clearly

This is a 4th edition of MrExcel LX. Updates for 2020 include: Ask a question about your data, XLOOKUP, Power Query's Data Profiling tools, How Geography Data Types decide which Madison, A SEQUENCE example for descending 52 weeks, Exchange Rates support in Stock Data Types, How to collapse the Search box, How to leave effective feedback for Microsoft, How to post your worksheet to the MrExcel Board using XL2BB.